Meet a legal staffer: Elizabeth Cavell

Name: Elizabeth Cavell.

Where and when I was born: New York, N.Y., in July 1983.

Education: B.A., University of Florida; J.D., Tulane University Law School.

Family: Spouse, Andrew Seidel; son, Oliver; and Moose, our dog.

How I came to work at FFRF: I worked as a public defender in Colorado after law school. After a couple of years there, my husband Andrew had an opportunity to work for FFRF so we moved to Madison. I took the Wisconsin bar exam and was working part-time providing legal support at FFRF when the former intake attorney left to take a job at a local firm. I was hired to replace her.

What I do here: I am the intake attorney, which means I supervise the processing of complaints by our administrative assistant. I also process incoming complaints myself. I speak with complainants who contact FFRF about potential state/church violations, assess each complaint and assign complaints to attorneys for further action when appropriate.

I also handle my own substantive caseload, which includes complaints involving governmental “In God We Trust” displays, public parks, post
offices and civil rights/public accommodations complaints.

What I like best about it: Working with my friends, practicing constitutional law and screwing with the government.

What gets old about it: The daunting volume of complaints, working with limited resources and people threatening to kill us.

I spend a lot of time thinking about: Places I’d like to travel, how to better myself, home improvement projects.

I spend little if any time thinking about: Sports and fantasy sports.

My religious upbringing was: Catholic. I attended Catholic school until my family moved to Florida when I was in fifth grade.

My doubts about religion started: I was never very engaged with religion as a kid. Homilies never made sense to me, and I never felt socially or intellectually connected to my church, but I was expected by my family to participate in the rituals and sacraments.

Like many Catholics, hypocrisy and abuse made me lose all respect for the church. And like many Catholics, as an adult I did not practice Catholicism in any way. Once I was in college and law school, reading the religious skepticism of others, I gave up any religion.

Things I like: Summer in Madison, visiting new places, laughing with my husband, narrating my dog’s thoughts.
Things I smite: Bullying, violence and corruption.

In my golden years: I hope to be traveling with my husband or living at my future beach or lake house.

Freedom From Religion Foundation